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What you need to know: BYU vs San Francisco, round 2

Trying to right the ship, the Cougars will face off against the Dons in Provo.

Kruize Pinkins and the Dons will face BYU in Provo
Kruize Pinkins and the Dons will face BYU in Provo
Ed Szczepanski-USA TODAY Sports

The History

When the BYU Cougars are visited by the San Francisco Dons on Saturday, it will mark the 19th meeting between the schools in a series that started in 1946. BYU has won 12 of the first 18 and look to continue the domination of the last couple of years, including a 3-0 record last year and a 1-0 record this season.

San Francisco, CA 2015 (99-68)

Led by the third triple-double of the year for Kyle Collinsworth, the Cougars went on the attack and came away with a dominant road victory. Collinsworth ended with 12 points, 12 rebounds and 10 assists and Tyler Haws led all scorers with 22 points. Chase Fischer added 20 points by hitting six three-pointers. After a quick start, the Cougars never looked back after leading 30-12 with under 10 left in the half, then 57-29 at halftime. In the win, BYU shot 60 percent from the field and an amazing 53.6 percent from the three-point line.

Las Vegas, NV 2014 (79-77)

The Dons and Cougars faced off in the West Coast Conference tournament semifinals in Las Vegas, where the winner would advance to take on the Gonzaga Bulldogs. BYU started strong, building double-digit lead in the first half before giving it up and entering the locker room down two, 37-35.

Both teams struggled to start the second half, then struggled again down the stretch. Neither team managed to score in the last three minutes, sending it to overtime. BYU scored the first six points in overtime, but USF had its chances as the Dons were only down by two with eight seconds left, missing a three-point shot at the horn. Two Cougars led the team with double-doubles, as Kyle Collinsworth ended with 18 points and 12 rebounds, and Eric Mika had with 11 points and 10 rebounds.

The Outlook

After a disheartening loss on the road to a sub .500 team in San Diego, the Cougars are licking their wounds and wondering where the season derailed. Another lackluster performance put the Cougars in a two game tailspin, and it doesn't appear progress is being made. If the Cougars want any chance to find their way into the NCAA Tournament, they will need to right the ship, and do it quickly.

The Positives

The 88% free throw shooting was impressive, as the only misses came from a 10-of-11 Haws and a 1-of-2 Collinsworth. Giving the opposing team double your free-throws counteracts that, as San Diego converted more free-throws than the Cougars attempted. The return of Anson Winder was supposed to be a positive, but a less-than-average game leaves us wondering if he is back to full strength. With nine points, four rebounds, and one assist, the Cougars will need more from him in order to find their way during the second half of the WCC season.

The Negatives

BYU was beat in almost every category by a team that has won 33% of their conference games. San Diego shot less than 28% from the three point line, and still shot better than the Cougars. The most glaring negative could be the zero points on the fast break. For a team that thrives on the run, the Cougars failed miserably when it counted. Without contributing post players, the Cougars will need to fix this problem.

The Keys to Watch

When the Dons have the ball:

Watch for the Dons to attempt to run the court with the Cougars. San Francisco is averaging 71 points per game, which is almost two less than they had before the first meeting. Watch for Kruize Pinkins and Mark Tollefsen to provide the bulk of the scoring, as they both average close to 15 points per game. Pinkins is sitting at 15.5 points per game and Tollefsen has dropped a bit to 14.5 points per game. Both players scored close to their average the first time around but look for them to try and make a bigger difference this time.

Tim Derksen is still third on the team in scoring as he scores under 12 per game. Watch for Matt Glover to get the ball to his scorers, but also take some chances with his passes. Glover is averaging three assists per game, down from the previous meeting, but does turn the ball over twice a game. Watch for the Dons to focus on offensive rebounding and second chance points as Pinkins and Tollefsen can rebound as well as score, although Glover is in the rebounding mix as well.

Watch for the Cougars to pressure Glover as they try to force a few more turnovers out of him. Once Pinkins does get the ball, look for BYU to harass him into turnovers and missed shots. Watch for BYU to use their quickness to get hands in the face of the shooters and force them to take shots they are not comfortable with. The Cougars allowed the Dons 24 three-point shots last time, with San Francisco only hitting seven of them. Watch for the Cougars to do the same thing, forcing the Dons to hit shots in order to win.

When the Cougars have the ball:

Watch for the Cougars to balance out the scoring again, as they had five players in double digits in the last meeting. Haws had 22, Fischer had 20, Winder had 17, Collinsworth had 12, and Jake Toolson had 11. Watch for Winder to have a better game now that he has hopefully shaken off some rust.  Watch for another good game from Collinsworth, as he rarely has a string of less than stellar games.

Watch for the Dons follow the blueprint of the rest of the WCC and play the Cougars physically. The officials are not calling the games close, so USF will experiment to see how physical they can be before the whistles start blowing. Their best defense is to body up the BYU players and force them to shoot with contact. The longer they can be effective at this, without the whistle being blown, the closer the game will be into the second half.

The Broadcasting Details

Time: 9 pm MST

Where: Marriott Center-Provo, UT

TV: ESPNU

Radio (BYU): KSL 1160 AM/102.7 FM, BYU Radio-Sirius XM 143

Listen Live via Internet (KSL): Click Here